Friday 21 November 2014


The First Minister has announced her new cabinet.

A well balanced team with a 50-50 mix of men and women.

Personal congratulations to my own superb MSP, Shona Robison, who takes over the massively important Health and Well-being brief while, quite logically, holding on to Sport, which is so closely related to health and well-being.

The two other deputy leader candidates are in the cabinet in charge of Infrastructure and Education. Again two big posts.

Nicola said of her team: 

"The aims of my government are clear: to create a nation that is both socially democratic and socially just, a nation that is confident in itself and governed effectively and a nation which will address poverty, support business, promote growth and tackle inequality.

"The new cabinet team I have announced today will pursue these priorities with verve, vigour and determination.

"Every member of the cabinet is part of this government's top team on merit, on the basis of the excellent work they have already done as ministers.
"The cabinet line-up is also a clear demonstration that this government will work hard in all areas to promote women, to create gender equality and it sends out a strong message that we will start the business of redressing the gender balance in public life right here in government."

I look forward to the rest of the ministerial team being announced. 

In the meantime Munguin's Republic offers hearty congratulations to all the cabinet secretaries.


  1. So Shona is your MSP. Mine's Ken McIntosh - swap? Joking aside, whilst we don't want tokenism, it's great to see so many women in the top jobs. Am I right in thinking that Nicola is the first female FM of a devolved parliament/legislature and not just the 1st in Scotland

    Another UKIP MP. I'm thinking is issuing our neighbours with an ASBO. I mean how anti-social not to mention xeneophobic.

  2. Yes, Shona is a great MSP and a friend too. I'm delighted to see her take up that post for which is is absolutely suited.

    I think you are right that Nicola is the first female FM in the UK.

    The only other female leader was Thatcher.

    Scotland does well on diversity, and largely, I think, not because of tokenism. I absolutely detest the idea of gender (or any other ) balance for the sake of it. Getting a MP/minister/ anything else for any other reason than that they were the best of the job is utterly ridiculous, and it's demeaning to the post and to the post holder. I'm with Anne Widdecombe on that (and hunting and that fact that Michael Howard is creepy... and nothing else!)

    For the last seven years we've had a female deputy FM. Labour has had a female leader for 3 years and a deputy before that (and indeed Wendy was leader for a year before that). The current and last Tory leaders have been female including one extremely good leader in Annabel. Add to that that two of the five party leaders are gay, the deputy leader of Labour is Asian, and one minister of the government is Asian...and that is impressive, and as far as I can make out none of it is tokenism.

    I may not think much of the leaders of the Tories and Labour, or Labour's current deputy, but I have no reason to believe that anyone else would have made a better job.

    Yes... another UKIP MP, but I am tempted to say that around this time it would be normal to bash the government in the UK in by-elections.

    Once it would have been the Liberals that benefited from the anti government vote, but of course as they form a part of that government that does kinda exclude them from the protest vote.

    Added to that there is the "incumbent" effect. Carswell at least was a pretty good constituency man, I believe. I'm not so sure about the Reckless one.

    I wonder if this is the big change... or if, come May, these seats will be back in the hands of the Tories.

    Dunno... what do you think?

  3. I am pondering your thoughts on Ukip, often people think better of their decisions made during By elections, but considering the level of political thinking south of the border and the fact that they do not have the SNP they may yet vote them back in. Trouble is that too many people feel aggrieved with Politics in England and are strangely turning even further to the right. I don't understand it but then we are a bit different in that most Scots still want a more socially cohesive community here. They may not recognise that Labour are unable and unwilling to supply it, too busy with the important seats in the South of England but I do not think they want to go further to the right.

    1. Yes, that's true Helena.

      People are talking about a big change in British politics. And I'm not saying that it's not possible, but I'm not sure I'd read too much into two by-elections.

      Just like prophesies of 50+ SNP seats, I think that probably the UKIP phenomenon is somewhat exaggerated.

      I expect the SNP to make some inroads (although we already know that Tory will vote Labour and Labour will vote Tory to keep them out...people have even said that they will vote for Danny Alexander, although they loathe him, to keep the SNP which I say: be careful what you vote for!), but I think the 40-50 seats is a daydream.

      Likewise a few UKIP seats may be won, but it is the damage that UKIP will do by distorting the vote... possibly allowing Labour in in Tory seats, or the Tories in in Labour seats, that is most likely to change Britain's voting patterns, I fear.

      I doubt UKIP has any chance of making inroads here. Although there are some racists and Europe haters to whom they might appeal, I doubt that the numbers are large enough on FPTP to win them a seat.

    2. I am willing to settle anywhere between 29 to 45 SNP MPs. I think that range is plausible. Scots are fed up with Westminster enough to vote for the same. The only problem is how to harness the enthusiasm of the Yes movement into this GE. I believe it is too short of a time to thrash out an alliance between the Political Parties and the grassroot movements. The only thing I foresee possible is an informal-tactical voting pact agreed between all parties in order to overcome FPTP (and pray it would fall through).

      In England, anything is possible. If I were English, I'd be tempted to vote UKIP just to give the middle finger. I think it is possible to vote UKIP but not actually believe in it. The electorate has smelled blood and all traditional parties should tremble in their boots.

      This GE is going to be fun.

    3. I do think that the anger in those who joined the SNP and the enthusiasm they bring to the Party will do not harm. Lots of foot soldiers, but we have still a whole lot of Brit Nats to convince. I do think that people may vote for the SNP in 2016 but we need the vote for Westminster, only by holding the blade at their throats, in fact we have to start with the fear they used against us. I too do not think we will get anything like the numbers presently being quoted, just wait till the BBBBC and media get going.
      We need to counteract the Vote SNP get Tories with, vote Labour/Tory get Tory.

    4. Well, I'll be very happy with 30-40 AHAH, but I still have my doubts.

      I think if I lived in England I've vote tactically to hurt the two main parties and the Liberals. I'm not sure what that would mean, probably it would depend on the constituency.

      I agree we need to get it across that this old vote SNP or Green or Liberal or SSP and get Tory is a pile of rubbish.

      Labour has 41 seats in Scotland; around 66%... and still we get a Tory government. it's rubbish. Even when we get Labour, it's just the Tories in a red dress instead of the blue suit.

  4. Well if she really wants to go left the Thatcherite Mike Russell just had to go
    Nicola grasped the thistle and tore it out... and stomped it into the ground.

    wouldn't happened under Alex ,,,, thats for sure

    1. Hi Niko...

      Don't know much about Mike Russel, except that there has been a bit of controversy around him... But he actually started off as a Labour man.

      Education is a hard brief. It seems you can probably never really get it right.
      Either you're being too hard on the kids... or you're handing out exam results like they were sweeties. I'd not want it in a million years.

      Nicola is, no doubt, to the left of Alex Salmond. As far as I'm concerned that's all to the good.

    2. I don't know Mike Russell, but I do know someone who had to fall on his sword for him, so I'm a bit wary.

    3. tris

      Dont know much about Mike Russel weel you should he is a perfect
      example of a neo liberal in snp clothing and he alongside OTHERS
      within the snp (including msps) will find the leftward march very


      augurs ! he has obviously been looking at some flying gooses
      and miss interpreting no surprise there. Going left is a good thing
      for all but then his natural tendency is worshiping evil and the
      rebirth of conservatism in Scotland.

    4. Conan: I'd forgotten about him. I've even forgotten what his blog was called, or what it was he did that caused such notoriety... (or not much notoriety in my case!)

      Niko: That's interesting. He seems to have done a not bad job in Education.

      I'm dubious too about the fuss that was made over his descriptions of some of the areas in the West. From my experience in the East, he was probably bang on. Describing poverty and hopelessness accurately may be politically incorrect, but unless we face it, we can't address it.

      It will be interesting to see how he fares as Communities Secretary. He needs to improve the lot of the people who live in the conditions he described in his book. An oil-rich country just shouldn't have conditions like that.

      I'm all for a move to the left, though and I'm looking forward to more socially equalising policies.

    5. He wants to be forgotten Tris...having Daily Mail 'journalists' on your back was a very unpleasant experience.

    6. Jeez Conan, I wouldn't want them in my street, never mind on my back!

  5. The SNP can be expected to continue their leftward march. This augers bad for SLAB, but it does open up some interesting longer term prospects in the Tayside for the Conservatives.

    Sturgeon strikes me as a much more leftwing figure than Alex ever was.

    She will make an interesting FM for Scotland.

    I'd like to add, it was really refreshing to see three female party leaders debating in the FMQs the other day. Pity Jackie Baillie will have to step aside for someone as divisive as Jim Murphy.

    1. Dean,

      Even if Murphy takes over as leader he will not be taking part in FMQ in the near future so I assume that role will be filled by a deputy. Like her or loathe her, believe her or not, Jackie Baillie is a much more effective communicator than Jo Lamont.

      As far as the general election is concerned I think the SNP should, despite current polls, exercise a degree of caution in setting targets of how many MPs they expect to gain at the GE. Quite a number of sitting MPs like Carmichael have a huge personal following and you also have to take into account the Niko-ites who would vote Labour blindly for no logical reason except possibly nostalgia. Given that the polls have the two major right-wing parties appear to be neck and neck in the polls there is no reason not to believe that even around a conservative 20 SNP MPs could have significant influence.

    2. Dean: It seems to me that the move leftward is inevitable, but I doubt we can expect anything too dramatic. Alex Salmond already led a left of centre government with policies well to the left of Labour.

      I don't know that we will actually notice much difference, but of course we know that there are massive cuts coming from London...although we don't know how big.

      London has its own problems, and cutting Scotland's budget may appease some right wing MPs and, possibly be part of trying to keep them from defection.

      Nigel would have no problem advocating big cuts to Scotland's budget (and probably Wales and Ulster). Left wing policies may be harder to achieve when there is less and less cash available.

      One of the reasons that the SNP held all these rural seats was Richard Lochhead being a really good secretary for Rural Affairs. He has been left in place. But it's true that a party which loves its [political ground will lose support from where it used to be. Both Labour and Liberals can bear witness to that. So there may be a drop off in votes in Perthshire and Angus, and even in the so-called SNP heartlands where the vote was NO in the referendum.

    3. John: Murphy does seem to be London's choice and they appear to be rigging things so that he will have the best chance, as the article on Paul's blog indicates.

      After Neil's diabolical performance on radio last week, I would say he was done for, and no one seems to be mentioning the third candidate, so much so that her name escapes me.

      I just can't imagine why anyone thinks Murphy is the answer to their problems. He's everything that Scottish people don't like about Labour politically... ie Blairite, pro war, anti war inquiry, right wing, nuclear weapons, Atlantisist, anti-Palestine, anti-welfare...added to which he lacks any kind of personal charm. He's what caused the problem. How can he be the answer to it?

      He's not photogenic or personable and he lacks any kind of sex appeal to bring the women in. His squealing about the egg incident had him compared unfavourably with John Major for heaven's sake. In the wimp stakes that's fairly low.

      And yet London, the BBC and the press seem to want him. Why?

      Added to that, he will be the boss without actually being the boss for around 15 months. If a week is a long time in politics, what is 15 months?

      Presumably the person doing FMQ will be Kezia, as I don't see anyone else winning that. Her old boss in London's house of peers will be pulling strings for her.

      She will undoubtedly be more effective than Jo reading from the script every week. But she too lacks charm, and she doesn't seem to have taken on board the need to stop the visceral hatred of the SNP and start attacking their policies rather than their personalities or their very existence.

      If she had any sense she would start praising the good things they do, like the council house building, the welfare, the childcare, the equality, the free education, elderly care, bus passes etc, etc...

      It's what people want, and Labour seem to be against it, but only because the SNP did it or because London wants to be against it in England where they are up against the Tories and UKIP. Policies made in England, designed for England and delivered, by default, in Scotland. That is what is wrong!

      I'm not sure that she will manage to do that. Once again, a bit like Murphy, she is not immediately appealing to men or women. She doesn't come over as bubbly or fun, her polices seem to be those of Lord Foulkes, (my auto-correct wants that to be Lord Foulness), and like Murphy, she lacks 'sex appeal' which, like it or not, is a disadvantage in the televisual world of the 2000s.

      I totally agree that the SNP shouldn't count chickens. There is tactical voting to be taken into consideration. I've seen tweets saying that the person will vote for someone they loathe to keep the SNP out. (Danny Alexander may yet be spared!)

      But, as you say, even a few seats more could make a difference in a parliament where Labour and the Tories stand for the same things.

    4. Dean I thought Ms Baillie was having a ball, or was it she was looking like a ball, ouch, I can say these things as a former little fat ball. Jackie knows she cannot get anywhere but boy does she love to stab all her previous, ahem leaders in the back. I wonder how she will fare with Mr Murphy.
      Just noticed Tris that Kezia's ex boss in the House of Peers should that not read the House of Pee'ers. Some how I feel that the number of incontinence products needed there must be exceedingly large.

    5. Funny Helena... I actually thought of that as I was typing it...

      I see they are having new toilets built at a cost that would have built a small council estate, so we may be right...

    6. Niko: I'd be interested on your take on the new Labour leader possibilities.

      I'm guessing that you would favour Neil Findlay?

    7. tris
      Yeah I can see why you say that , But as you lot constantly say skull
      Murphy is an untrustworthy self seeking dishonest out for hiself vermin
      scum..............which may or may not be true.My belief is he is power mad
      enough to want to and could lead an Independent Scottish Labour party
      just so could be laird of all he surveys.
      and tell Westminster now no longer his paymaster to feck right off

    8. That's interesting Niko.

      Do you think he would actually pursue different policies to Ed's? I've often wondered how anyone could do that in any real way without people really wondering what the party was all about.

      I mean if you have MPs and MEPs campaigning on Ed's policies, and MSPs campaigning on Jim's... wouldn't that confuse people, especially if Jim is supposed to be in charge all Labour in Scotland... including MPs?

      I agree he is power mad. Someone in one of the papers wrote that he would do anything for power. He stuck with Blair's right of centre Neoliberal views because Blair had the power to make him someone (although he never did... after all he was only ever a junior minister, or Scottish Secretary (the most junior job in the cabinet, and a job he very definitely didn't want).

      But he doesn't actually believe in anything except Jim Murphy (according tithe article) so... and that would tie in with what you were saying... he could suddenly become anti war, pro Palestine, pro decent welfare, anti bombs and war...?

      That would be an interesting move... but one that Margaret Curran says Slab is making... Left wing policies for the working man, she said on her wee tour of all the left wing places that voted yes.

      I really am looking forward to seeing how it pans out.

  6. It doesn't say much for their ability to work things out that the Labour party rank and file support in Scotland haven't yet worked out why the Tory press are the most vociferous campaigners for Jim Murphy to become the leader of the Labour branch office in Scotland.

    1. |Well, yes. When your supposed enemy is advising and urging you to take a certain course of action, you probably should wonder why that is, and ask yourself if it is in your best interests!

  7. tris and them

    All this we are the party for working people (note not working class )
    now I am one of the wery few in the republic who is born and lived and lives
    (even though i do own my own home ) a true working class life unlike the rest of ya .

    Anyway even I felt unwanted and indeed unwelcome in the new labour party my vote thank you much my opinion...Oh do leave off you old fashioned commy bastard
    next they will be wearing flat caps and clogs ...E by gum !

    Mind as many of them like nicola herself said ' I was working class or i was from
    a working class background ' wot are we that much scum.

    1. I don't think any of us here is THAT posh Niko.

      For my own part I live in an area of multiple deprivation in Dundee.

      There was a really good article in the Spectator which you might enjoy... further to the Labour member who laughed at White Van Man and his English flags....

    2. Good video. Dundee was excellent, but this was just AWESOME. New heartlands of the SNP? Glasgow.